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Ongoing review: Shimano Di2

We raved about Shimano's impressive Di2 in our March issue.

We raved about Shimano’s impressive Di2 in our March issue, when editor Kevin Mackinnon surprised himself by being able to install most of the components onto a Ceepo Katana frame. Mackinnon has continued to ride both the bike and the Di2 gruppo and will provide an ongoing review here on the Triathlon Magazine Canada website.

Just a few days after I installed the Di2 gruppo I jumped on a plane to Malaysia to cover Ironman Malaysia. After packing the bike into my favorite soft shell Akona bike case, I was happy to finally get to island of Langkawi, the site of Ironman Malaysia. Once I got to my hotel the first order of business was to reassemble my bike and put the new gruppo through it’s paces.

Easier said than done.

It must have taken me about 15 minutes to just make the trip through the lobby of the hotel. Pretty much everyone who saw me wanted to know what I thought of the bike, the Dura Ace wheels and then, once they saw it, the Di2 gruppo. Just about everyone also asked if I was racing on the weekend rather than doing my usual stint behind a computer providing event coverage.

Once I finally got outside into the searing heat, I managed to finally put the components through their paces. To say that it lived up to expectations (which were high) would be the understatement of 2010. Gears shifted quickly, easily and accurately with just the press of a button. Determined to test things on some steeper climbs, I found some of the steeper climbs on the Ironman Malaysia course and was impressed with my ability to change gears even with a crazy amount of pressure on the pedals.

Once I’d proved to myself that climbing wasn’t going to be an issue, I chose a rolling section of the course to test things out. Despite the fact that this was my first time on the Pro aero bars I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was more comfortable in an aero position than sitting up. And, in that position, I found what I believe to be one of the most incredible features of Di2. In the past triathletes have had a choice: bar end shifters which allow for easy shifting in the aero position, or STI shifters attached to the brake calipers which allow for easy shifting when you’re sitting up. Welcome to Di2 – buttons next to both spots make it a breeze to shift from either position.

For many triathletes that alone will make the world of difference, which is, in many ways, a crime because that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the performance of this system.
Once I returned to the hotel I was once again bombarded by athletes who were amazed by the bike. “Do you like it?”

“There’s nothing I’ve found not to like,” was my constant reply.

Next week I’ll go through more of the features that have impressed me with the Di2 gruppo and run through many of the specific questions people have asked me about the system. Feel free to add questions to my list by sending me an e-mail at kevin@triathlonmagazine.ca